Waipahu High students participate in graduate-level research

Published: Jul. 14, 2015 at 6:32 PM HST
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WAIPAHU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - By Victoria Cuba

Waipahu High School students had the opportunity to showcase authentic molecular biology research to honored guests, including First Lady Dawn Ige, on Friday.

Forty sophomores, juniors and seniors participated in graduate-level research through the five-week Hawaii Science Scholars Program. The program was made possible through a $20,000 grant from the Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation.

The students worked with Rutgers University, studying and identifying unknown proteins in a duckweed species. They discovered that some of their findings could further benefit cancer and biofuel research. The findings will be published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website.

"The great thing about this is at the end of the day, when the students are done with the research, they actually get published side-by-side with research scientists," said Mike Sana, the program's science instructor.

The students were able to communicate with Rutgers University through the DNA Sequencing Analysis Program, or DSAP, which allows the University to look over their research and send immediate feedback.

"Before this program even started, I had no clue in anything about molecular biology," said Jommel Macaraeg, an upcoming junior in the program. "We're new at this. We make errors on it. And the staff at Rutgers University, they're there to help us identify errors in our sequencing and help us fix it."

Waipahu High is one of 74 schools across the nation participating in the research program. Being the only school in Hawaii involved, Sana hopes that more schools offer this opportunity to their students.

"I feel that there are a lot of other schools that can benefit, especially the students," said Sana. "They're teaching them these laboratory cutting edge skills will get them ahead of the game.

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